Marion Barber Graduates (Star Tribune / Sporting News / Land of 10)
Former University of Minnesota running back Marion Barber Jr., will graduate with a degree in Youth Studies on May 11. In doing so, the 57-year-old Barber will fulfill a promise he made to his mother as a teenager.
Barber took part in the Gopher Graduation Program, which was started in 2007 and made Minnesota one of the first universities in the nation to provide financial aid to former athletes to finish their education. On Thursday, Barber will become the 58th former student athlete who has been assisted by the Gopher Grad program and one of 13 former football players who earned his degree utilizing it.
Barber came to Minnesota 40 years ago as a 17-year-old freshman and played in 44 games for the Gophers. He rushed 660 times (tied for third in school history) for 3,094 yards (sixth in school history) and scored 34 touchdowns (third in school history) as he established himself as one of the most dynamic backs to ever wear the Maroon and Gold.
Barber was drafted by the New York Jets in the second round with the 30th overall selection. He would play in 85 games for the Jets before retiring after the 1988 season.
Barber's legacy extends far beyond his playing days for the Gophers, as his three sons - Marion Barber III, Dom Barber and Thomas Barber - all played at Minnesota. Thomas will be a sophomore linebacker for the Gophers in the fall, while Marion III and Dom played at Minnesota before excelling in the NFL.
Barber retired from Sysco Foods in 2008 and today works as a special education assistant at Armstrong High School. Two years ago, he decided to return to school to fulfill the promise to his mother, but to also erase any hypocritical thoughts he had in about working in education and not having a degree.
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